2016 the year grime takes over
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If you ask a McLean student to name three rappers, odds are two of the three would be Kanye West and Drake. If you ask about Skepta, Krept & Konan, or Stormzy hardly any McLean students would recognize a name. Across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom, Skepta is a household name and is one of the grime (British rap) stars helping to spread grime to America.
Grime has been a popular form of music in the UK for years, but thanks to Drake’s newly minted friendship with Skepta, and other grime artists co signing with prominent American artists, such as Kanye and A$AP Mob as well as Drake, grime is quickly expanding its audience.
Now that grime is making its way across the pond 2016 is being set up as the year grime becomes popular in America, so in preparation here are the grime artists you need to know for 2016. Please note the embedded songs may not be appropriate for all audiences.
Skepta is one of the most prominent grime artists, given his work as both a producer, a writer, and a performer for the genre, he also helped to cofound a leading grime label known as “Boy Better Know” (often abbreviated as “BBK”). In 2015 Skepta forged an unlikely friendship with Drake, who even got a BBK tattoo. Skepta is expected to release a new album in late 2015 or early-mid 2016, so keep your eyes out for it. Skepta’s biggest song of 2015 has been club banger Shutdown which has racked up close to 30 million plays on Soundcloud, YouTube, and Spotify. Skepta toured the United States and Canada as part of his Shutdown Tour including a stop in D.C.. If you want to get introduced to Skepta check out his Blacklisted mixtape for a sample of the emotion and storytelling girme has to offer. Other songs to check out are Top Boy, That’s Not Me, and Lukey World.
If Skepta’s grime isn’t your thing check out his appearance on Ace Hood’s track Supposed To Do.
Krept & Konan:
Skepta was not the only one who helped spread grime in 2015, London duo Krept and Konan followed up their record breaking 2013 mixtape with a studio album in 2015, titled The Long Way Home. This album combines elements of both grime and American rap, while also featuring a plethora of American and English artists such as Wiz Khalifia, Rick Ross, Jeremih, DJ Mustard, YG, Skepta, and Ed Sheeran. Three tracks from this album that should catch the eye of an American looking to get into grime are Certified featuring Rick Ross, Last Night featuring YG, and Freak Of The Week featuring Jeremih.
In 2015 Stormzy went from a relatively underground grime artist to holding a spot in the UK singles top ten during Christmas season, surrounded by Adele, Justin Bieber and G-Eazy. Stormzy was also named 2015 Grime Act of the Year at the MOBO awards, arguably the highest award in grime. Stormzy is featured on countless tracks, however two singles he released in 2015 stand out as among the best grime has to offer, as exhibited by their numerous accolades. 10 Minutes and Shut Up are the best indicators of Stormzys talent and leave listeners wanting more.
Skepta’s brother, J.M.E has a raw grime sound with verses that could be hard to understand through his thick British accent. That being said, J.M.E’s 2015 album Integrity> does a great job showcasing the beauty of grime lyrics. In Don’t @ Me which features Skepta, Frisco and Shorty the listener is rewarded for understanding the quick heavily accented song with verses such as “You and I have got different plans / You’re trying to look gucci in Milan / I’ll be eating sushi in Japan.” Integrity> was one of the best grime albums of 2015, although it is not a good introduction to grime, it is a great listen for those who appreciate grime.
Chipmunk, known now as Chip has been on the grime seen since around 2010, however in 2015 Chip churned out banger after banger. By the end of 2015 Chip had caught the attention of a notable grime promoter in America, Peter Rosenberg who hosts a radio show in New York and has interviewed Skepta and Krept and Konan this year. On Dec. 25 Rosenberg as well as Tim Westwood helped Chip release a mixtape, titled Rap vs Grime which showcases grime with the angle of an American audience.
Most grime artists are from a distinct London neighborhood that is a source of inspiration for their music, but Bugzy Malone is not most grime artists. He hails from Manchester, and drops verses behind simple beats representing the lyrical prowess that good grime has. His 2015 album Walk with Me peaked at 8 on the UK charts and is a phenomenal listen. Lyrical gems hidden in the album include the verse
“Cause I’m way too busy putting Manchester on the map / And I’m Bugzy Malone / That’s no secret, everybody on Twitter knows that / When will I get a blue tick? / I’m like David Blaine with a new trick / Because when I say 0161, Manny on the map, everybody in the room goes sick / I am the evolution of Grime, in fact I am way before my time / Nobody wanted to know me back then, so I just rung people off my line.”
This verse and many more can be found on Walk with Me which is embedded below.
To get a taste of Bugzy Malones raw talent look no further than his Fire In The Booth.
For some, this may be the first familiar name on the list, as KSI is a famous YouTuber from the UK with close to 12 million subscribers. KSI branched out into grime with the help of Sway, and will release an EP, titled Keep Up in early 2016. KSI’s music is nowhere near the caliber of the other grime artists on this list, however since he has a lot of American fans he has the potential to introduce new listeners to grime. The namesake for the EP, Keep Up is a decent enough track bolstered by Sway’s producing, an excellent feature of J.M.E, and not that much KSI. Despite the current lack of quality in his music, KSI possesses the ability to further expand the grime audience in America.